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The Aquilian

From cancer survivor to hiking champion

From+cancer+survivor+to+hiking+champion

As Joe Campione ‘24 ended his hike at Gravelly Point Park, he smiled and sighed with relief. Due to the cancer, his chances of being able to walk were tiny but Campione could care less about the odds. 

Campione was born with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer that affects the lives of about 42 kids per year and about 400 adults each year. 

“It was a cancer that was in my butt, which is a little funny, a little humorous. I was the youngest kid to have it detected, and I came out of the womb with it. Luckily, doctors had just developed a different type of radiation for kids my age, and that’s the reason I can walk. I wasn’t supposed to walk. I guess I beat the odds, but if I were in Vegas, I wouldn’t bet comfortably on me walking,” Campione explained.

Campione was cleared of his cancer at just 18 months old, but due to the chemotherapy at such a young age, he has had to face some repercussions. There is about a 60% chance that he’ll develop a chronic illness before the age of 40, and he is more susceptible to getting another form of cancer. However, Campione uses these setbacks as motivations to live his life to the fullest.

“I’m kind of forced to be in the moment because I’m not gonna say the next day is not guaranteed, but […] I don’t know where I’m gonna be five years from now, so I just have to think very much of the present moment, but then it’s also just not counting on time that might not exist,” he began. “The goal for a while is to live a normal life and now that I’m living a quasi-normal life, or the closest I’m ever gonna get, I think the goal is to do my best tomorrow and then do my best the day after that.” 

Campione is also a varsity coxswain on Gonzaga’s rowing team. Head coach Tom Daley loves everything that Campione brings to the team.

“Joey is special. I love the energy he brings to practice every day, I love the way he lifts his teammates up, I love the passion he has for the sport. I mean, it’s hard for me to not keep going on about how much I love Joey,” he exclaimed. 

Campione wants to live each day moment by moment and cherish his time in the world, but his journey of fighting cancer doesn’t stop here. Now, he helps others in their battles with the illness.

“For a while, a goal was to get really into hiking because I wasn’t supposed to walk. On April 7, I’m doing a fundraising hike for CureSearch for childhood cancer. It’s a great hike, it’s like 12 miles so it’s a little long, but it’s fine. In the years past, we’ve raised over $10,000 in a year so hopefully we can get that again,” he said.

Campione’s fundraiser raises awareness and generates funding for those who have to battle cancer and he helps people with the illness feel like they are never alone. He wants to ensure that others can live in the moment and get a shot at a healthy life. Time is a present that he wants people to enjoy.

Below is the link to donate to the fundraiser and help contribute to making a change in the world: https://give.curesearch.org/event/2024-alexandria-hike/e551078

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    Carol CorganFeb 23, 2024 at 12:26 pm

    Another awesome profile! The series could be “Profiles in ‘Gonzaga’Courage!

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